Elfyn turned prior to fitting the frames, which will be to Iain's Galloway Faering plan, ie traditional.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Framing begins

I will be fitting the framing from the Galloway Faering, rather than the plywood Elfyn, which is much simpler, and less authentic.

The thwarts will rest on the frames, without fastenings, to allow them to rock a little as you row. Easier too when you want to re varnish.

Next to fit will be the rangs, the fore and aft cant frames. Not sure quite how necessary this all is in a glued structure, but it looks nice!

A lot of extra work, mind you, but one of the best bits about making a boat is the shaping of the interior framing, and in the case of a Faering, band sawing and fashioning
and planing lots of lovely bits of oak is a joy...

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Turn Time Soon

The underwater (canoe body, technically) is now painted in a semi-matt white, to set off the Vendia's grain, and provide a little more protection.

The waterline sweeps up a tad at bow and stern, which should show a flash of white at the cutwater.

The keel has been deepened to around 3 1/2in amidships, and will be planed off a touch before the keel band is fitted, after which she'll be flipped for the interior framing to start next week, I hope.

Among the things I might do differently next time are to specify that the scarphs are staggered, like a solid clinker faering, ie two in the garboards fore and aft, and one each (staggered) in the other two strakes. There's no strength issue in a laminate having the scarphs more or less aligned, but it would look more authentic, albeit at the cost of having to use longer Vendia boards. It might also be nice to employ Norwegian-type scarphs, with proud lips, but that might be just trying too hard.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Busy busy

No posts for a while and now three boats to build, which should keep Viking Boats of Ullapool going into next spring. The first off the blocks is an Oughtred Elfyn. This one will be my third, the last two in solid timber, this one in the lovely Vendia plank from Finland.

The decision to go for a laminate over solid was simple:any three strake boat that's not kept damp will tend to move, and most boats these days live their lives on trailers and in dry sheds, or outside in the East wind, or trailed down motorways or a combination of all of the above, which is not ideal.

Besides which, Vendia is, how shall I say, absolutely, totally wonderful to work with: don't think pl*wood, think more in terms of flawless pine, but sliced in veneers and reassembled, leaving the grain and figure as it would be in solid timber.


Having said that, due to an oversight, the planks were cut from quarter sawn Vendia, not what they call crown cut. That's a small shame, as the faering will look almost too good, without the grain and figure (and sometimes knots) that come with planks sawn through and through.

And let's not forget a plug for my favourite glue: Collano Semparoc 60. Fantastico!

The second of the boats, awaiting keel timber, is a 22ft authentic Viking boat, designed by Aidan Campbell for his Wirral-based reenactment society. This will be rather special, in that the stems have been carved from solid by my good friend and boat builder Mattis Voss, who spent five days with chainsaw and adze. Alec Jordan digitised Aidan's plans and provided full size templates which might make it easier to build, but probably not. It will be an interesting experiment in any case to see if it is possible to construct an authentic Viking boiat using modern methods. I suspect we will find that the Vikings knew better.

The third boat, also in Vendia and due for delivery next year, is a 17ft Arctic Tern, the second I will have built, the first one in solid timber again. This is a shrunken version of Iain's popular design, and at 17ft a little more manageable perhaps.

And there's a pair of spoon oars, based on a Pete Culler design...

Monday, 20 June 2016


She's been ready for a while, but delayed due to circumstance and sadness. But finally, today, the owner of the Tammie Norrie, called Bay of Plenty II, came to collect his boat and whisk her off to Skye where she will replace a family boat that came to the end of its days.

There's a poignancy in seeing a cherished boat live again in the shape of a new one, freshly made in the same old way.

She'll have to endure the scrutiny of her designer, Iain Oughtred, a neighbour of the owner's on the island, where all eyes will be on her. There was some controversy surrounding her build, traditionally in larch and oak, not the customary plywood and epoxy, a method Iain has perfected over many years. Let those who see her be the judge, but as the old saying goes: there are many ways to make a good boat.

Meanwhile, here are some photos before she left for Skye.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Getting There in My Own Time

The end is in sight, and if pressed launch date could be as early as next week. The thwarts are fitted, and next job are the knees, breasthook and general fitting out; rowlocks, mooring rings etc and floorboards.

No, not this one...

Oh, and lots of lovingly applied Coo-Var "Yacht & Seaplane Varnish". Doesn't that have a nice, old-fashioned ring about it? I can imagine it being applied to those wooden flying boats, their hulls all copper rivets and veneers, some of them, the P5 and N4s, for example, designed by Linton Hope and constructed along boat building lines dating back to the First World War.

Thursday, 14 April 2016


Getting there, in a rather desultory way, but the pace quickens and a deadline is looming.

Nothing much to say other than to point out the use of larch for the steamed timbers, rather than  oak which I find has a tendency to go brittle and break over the years. Never found that with larch which steams well and is more predictable.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

New Year New Boat

With the Auk afloat, the future looked a bit dim, with nothing in the pipeline. Then a man from Skye called to see if I could replicate an old boat he had on his family croft. Replicate, perhaps, but restore no, so I suggested one of Mr Oughtred's Tammie Norries, but stretched a little here and there, in a way that is only possible when you build in wood.

The moulds were spaced a wee bit further apart, and hey presto: another 6in, as if by magic.

The pile of larch outside the shed was hauled inside and chopped up into manageable bits, the backbone set up on the bench and before too long the beginnings of a boat started to appear at Viking's old milking parlour by the shores of Loch Broom.

The joy is that the owner is in no tearing rush, which means I can take my time. To date, a couple of weeks into the build and the garboards are on. I am trying a slightly different way of doing the stems. It's a hybrid between cutting a proper rabbet in a solid stem/apron, or splitting the two and working the rabbet into the outer stem, then refitting  it.